Math Scores Drop For 4th & 8th Grades

Improve test taking skills with Exam Elf's free Math App

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

The Nation’s Report Card

U.S. 4th and 8th grade students are performing worse in math than they were two years ago, according to new data from a national test.

According to new data released this week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test, U.S 4th and 8th grade students are performing worse in math than they were two years ago.  To read some of the reasons sighted you can read more on the Education Week Blog.

Next week marks the beginning of November which means students, parents and teachers have 6 months to prepare our students for the next Common Core math tests in April 2016.  As Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.

To help students prepare for these exams ZumFun has developed a free app called Exam Elf.  Exam Elf teaches 12 key skills to help build confidence and improve test taking skills.

Students can use Exam Elf to help them prepare for their exams over the next 6 months.

Month 1 – Timing

Month 2 – Focus

Month 3 – Strategy

Month 4 – Quality

Month 5 – Vision

Month 6 – Grasp

Exam Elf teaches 12 key skills to build confidence and improve test taking skills

Exam Elf Teaches 12 Key Skills

Download the free Exam Elf app now and start planning for the next 6 months.

Visit our website to learn how parents can receive weekly progress reports and teachers can watch how our dedicated teachers interface is helping with lesson planning.

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Exam Elf’s Solution To Improving Test Skills

Improving Test Skills

TASA Feedback

Exam Elf – Improving Test Skills

TASA Major Findings

Earlier this year the team at Exam Elf  presented its math app Exam Elf to a panel of Superintendents at the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA).  The following is an excerpt from the feedback we received about our math app which is committed to improving test skills.

Exam Elf has an impressive solution that should elicit a positive reaction from educators and parents. The panelists were impressed by what they saw and thought this was a cool application. Each panelist reflected that teachers and students would benefit from a better utilization of technology, especially mobile devices, in the classroom. The ability to reach out to learners and report to both parents and teachers exhibited a compelling solution above and beyond the anticipated us in the classroom.

Further, there was agreement around the importance of improving test skills indicating that Exam Elf addresses an effective and useful issue.

We found the TASA presentation and exhibition a very worthwhile experience and it put us on the front line with teachers and administrators.  We took on-board all of the valuable feedback received and have tweaked our exam solution and feel the math app is now even stronger!

If you’re a student, parent or teacher and would like to learn more about how Exam Elf is improving test skills, then visit our website or download the Exam Elf app here.

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Summer Holidays – A Time To Reconnect

Summer Holidays

Summer Holidays

Summer Holidays – A Time To Reconnect

Why Family Time Is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Summer Holidays are now in full swing and as a father of two boys this is my favorite time of year.  Everyone is now past the midway point of the calendar year and it’s the downhill run to the festive period…..another particular favorite of mine!  I titled this blog Summer Holidays – A Time To Reconnect because that’s exactly what it is for my family.

We’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of city life and headed to the beach for some sun, sand and swimming but also to refocus and realign our family values.  It’s so easy with the demands of daily survival to lose sight of what’s really important.  Everyone is busy trying to please someone else and during this process it’s often those closest to us that we neglect because we tell ourselves that ‘they understand’.

I know that I often find myself saying ‘in a minute’ to my boys when they’re trying to explain or show me something that they’re excited about.  With our lives now heavily occupied by the digital world we are at risk of missing some wonderful, real world moments.

This week I plan on eradicating the phrase ‘in a minute’ and using the Summer Holidays as my chance to reconnect with those that mean the most to me – my family.

Oh, I’ll also be challenging my boys at Exam Elf!  If you have an iPhone or iPad and want to try out Exam Elf, you can download it here.



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Supporting Students, Parents and Teachers

Exam Elf Supporting Students, Parents and Teachers

TASA Innovation Zone

Exam Elf Receives Praise For It’s Award Winning App

Supporting Students, Parents and Teachers

Now that the controversial Common Core and TEKS has fizzled out to a small ember from the recent raging fire, Exam Elf takes a moment to reflect on what was an important year in it’s development.

Launched in March 2014, our aim was to bridge the widening gap between those who can afford an advantage in education and those who cannot as highlighted in the Dallas Morning News.  Since then we’ve had over 60,000 thousand questions answered via our iOS math app Exam Elf, some outstanding testimonials and most importantly positive feedback from students, parents and teachers.

In January this year we won a place on the Texas Association of School Administrators Innovation Zone.  This was a huge accolade and acknowledgement of Exam Elf in it’s first year.  After our presentation we had the opportunity to speak directly to those who are on the front line of the hugely controversial changes to the education system.

On returning from the TASA Midwinter Conference we received written feedback from our panel of 5 superintendents.  Here are just a few highlights;

“Exam Elf has an impressive solution that should elicit a positive reaction from educators and parents.”

“The ability to reach out to learners and report to both parents and teachers exhibited a compelling solution above and beyond the anticipated use in the classroom.”

“The panelists liked the platform and service and felt that it was designed with the teacher and learner in mind.”

“The panel agreed that the service would certainly help schools increase teaching and learning.”

This was wonderful feedback to receive as the team behind Exam Elf are passionate, dedicated and committed to supporting students, parents and teachers in education.

To find out more visit our website

Exam Elf

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Fun Math Games For The Weekend

Exam Elf Fun Math Games App

Pizza Night

Are you kidding?! Fun math games?!

So the school week is over and it’s time to forget about school right?  Sure, if you want your child to be ‘okay’ at math. I mean, how many parents do you know that want their child just to be okay at anything they do? That’s right, not many.  So here are a few ideas to keep the brain active and your child learning math with some fun games.

My family are pretty tired after a busy week and with all the extra curricular activities during the week we set aside Friday nights as pizza night.  I’m sure when my two boys are older they’ll want to reconsider which night is family…. I mean pizza night but for now it works well.  As a family, we head off to the supermarket and the negotiations begin. Hawaiian, meat feast, margarita, you get the drift.  To keep their minds active with real world puzzles we ask the boys how many slices total we have with our 3 pizza’s.  We then start asking them subtraction questions like if Daddy has 7 slices how many are left. These fun math games keep the boys busy and also distracted from the toys section!

Driving A Home Run

Saturday morning arrives and we all jump in the car and head to baseball in what can only be described as a tornado.  During our journey we ask the boys what the speed limit is, how long our journey is and how long it should take us to arrive.  We encourage them to think out loud by working through their decision making progress and agree on a final answer before submitting to the judges (Mom & Dad!).  We then ask the boys what angles are involved in a baseball diamond and encourage them to think about the angles between the foul lines, between the pitcher and first base and well, you get the picture.


Of course all good work whether it be activity and/or results should be rewarded.  The boys are given pocket money for anything they’d like to buy with the money they have. They are responsible for their own money, own purchases and must save what change they have for next week’s game.

So, there you have it.  Fun math games to keep your children thinking without knowing that they’re really learning.

For more fun math games checkout our website.

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A Fun Recipe For Learning Math

Learning Math

5 Step Recipe For Learning Math

5 Step Recipe For Learning Math

As a child many moons ago I was never engaged with mathematics. I was always slow to grasp the concept, it’s workings and ultimately what use it would serve me as a grown up. I found the ‘one size fits all’ approach to education outdated even back then. Today as a parent, I try to inject math lessons into everyday life and activities and without further ado I share with you my 5-step recipe for learning math!

The hardest part of this process is deciding which scrummy cake you’re going to bake with your child. Let them decide which cake they’d like to bake as this engages more passion and interest.

  1. Write a shopping list of ingredients including amounts and measurements. Try to keep the process systematic and follow the guidance. This part of the process illustrates a structure, a starting point, some calculations, measurements, timings and an eventual result.
  2. Go shopping for the ingredients. Use the list as a reference and look at the package sizing and weight to check you’re buying enough. Keep the receipt for later.
  3. Make and bake the cake following the recipe. Use measuring spoons, cups, jugs etc. Decide what shaped tin you’ll use, round or square?
  4. While the cake is in the oven use the time to clean up and using the receipt calculate with your child the total cost of ingredients. Factor in your time and maybe some energy costs. Decide what you would pay for your cake at your local café either as whole or individual slices. Consider mark up, net and gross profit margins, cost of goods etc.
  5. Cut the cake into equal portions and decide who deserves a slice!

I’ve found by using this simple 5-step recipe my sons have a great interest in learning math and a better understanding of how math applies to our everyday life.

As you sit back and enjoy your cake download our free math app Exam Elf to practice what you’ve just learnt.

Exam Elf

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Why It’s Important To Take Time Out

Time Out

Time Out

Taking Time Out

As a Father of two boys I know first hand how chaotic life can be. I’m also one of those lucky people who can say they love their job. My wife works 4 days a week, we have a dog (Matilda) and our boys participate in soccer, rugby and swimming. We’re healthy, happy and always on the go, always! So when do you stop for some time out?

Our boys are 3 years apart and have their own friends and definitely have their own personalities. So this morning when I had the rare opportunity to spend some time with my eldest boy I was keen to maximize our time together. I grabbed the soccer ball and boots and suggested that we head down to our local park. The response I received was not what I was expecting. “Dad, I’m tired. Can we just take some time out together?”

This was the first time that I’d taken a moment to step back and think about my sons’ busy schedule. As adults we look forward to those little moments to breath. For me, it’s when the kids go to bed and I get a chance to speak to my wife without any interruptions. Today, for my son it was some 1-1 time with his Dad without any interruptions from his younger brother!

We spent the morning playing Minecraft and learning how to format Word documents. We had meaningful conversations and all of a sudden he seems like a young mature man. When did that happen? Well, it probably happened while we were busy with everyday life.

This weekend, spend some 1-1 time with your children. Don’t worry too much about what the activity is, as long as you’re together.

Have a great weekend!

Exam Elf

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Learn The Hard Way

Learn The Hard Way

Learning The Hard Way

When Should You Let Your Children Learn The Hard Way?

As parents it’s our job to keep our children safe and we’re constantly telling them that the decisions we make for them are “for their own good”. Sounds familiar right? But when should we let our children learn the hard way?

As adults we have the benefit of hindsight and we easily forget that we too were once children with a keen imagination and knew no limits or boundaries. We didn’t think through the entire situation from beginning to end and weigh up the risk versus reward ratio and make an informed decision. When our parents or teachers weren’t around we tried it. Sometimes we were right and sometimes we were wrong.

Being wrong isn’t bad and shouldn’t be viewed negatively. We should be encouraging our children to think independently and to learn from their own experiences. Sure, I’m not for a minute suggesting we give them the keys to the car and say, “off you go”. What I am saying is we should sometimes let our children learn the hard way.

Empower them to think for themselves, to think through a situation and to consider possible outcomes. We should be open to discussing the lessons learned from their experiences and applaud the right choices and make suggestions on how they could improve or do things differently in the future.

So, stop making all of your children’s decisions because 9 out of 10 times it’s for our own good, not our children’s. Sometimes we should let them learn the hard way.

Exam Elf

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5 Tips To Be A Better Role Model

Exam Elf - Role Model

5 Tips To Be A Better Role Model

Practice These 5 Tips To Be A Better Role Model?

Exam Elf takes time out from the Common Core State Standards and TEKS to consider what it takes to be a better role model.

  1. Be Positive

Having a positive outlook on everyday activities is important but also harder than it sounds. As parents it’s easy to get distracted with life. Work, money, health, children, our own parents, friends, traffic, the list goes on……

It’s tough and it takes a conscious effort to remain positive but it will not only help your own situation it will clearly demonstrate to your child that being positive is a choice that everyone can make.

  1. Walk The Walk

There’s an old adage that says ‘do as I say, not as I do’. This is confusing to children and sets the wrong example. Telling your children that they can’t have a chocolate or bag of chips because they’re unhealthy and then sitting on the couch later that night and eating them yourself sends the wrong message. Telling your children to use their manners and then not doing it yourself does nothing to reinforce your message and intent.

If you talk the talk, make sure you walk the walk.

  1. Identify Other Role Models

It’s easy to think that as parents we need to be setting the example all of the time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sit down with your child and write down a list of possible role models. They could be sportspeople, teachers, grandparents, friends, business people, and actors to name a few.

Identify 4-5 people and ask your child to do some research on them. Find out why they’re successful, what lessons they can offer, what lessons can be learned and how your child could use these lessons for themselves. Your child will not only be excited about this special project but they’ll take more notice because they’re not his or her parents!!

  1. Rewards & Consequences

As adults we are acutely aware of rewards and consequences. This is most evident with work. If we turn up to work on time, do our job, respect others and don’t do anything against company policy or even against the law we are rewarded with wages, bonuses, job titles and promotions. Should we turn up late, disrespect others or act fraudulently there are consequences that range from a verbal warning to imprisonment.

Initiating a rewards and consequences mentality into your household will set them up for adulthood. Reward positive attitudes, activities and behaviors and similarly implement consequences for negative, naughty and disrespectful attitudes, activities and behaviors. Individualize the rewards and consequences to your children for maximum results.

  1. ‘I Was Wrong’

These 3 words not only show your children that grown ups make mistakes, it clearly demonstrates that it’s ok to be wrong. In a world where being wrong is stigmatized and looked down upon it’s very important that we teach our children that being wrong is how we learn. Tell your children why you were wrong, what lesson you learned and how you will do it differently next time.

These are just 5 tips on how you can be a positive role model for your children. It’s a reminder on how we can be positive, walk the walk, identify other role models, establish rewards and consequences and admitting that we can be wrong.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what being a positive role model is. Leave a comment below.

Exam Elf 

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5 Exam Tips To Ace Your Exams

Use These 5 Tips To Ace Your Exams

Our research has shown that students often under perform in testing for a number of reasons including stress, anxiety, time limits and rushing through the exam. We’ve come up with 5 exam tips to help you face exams with confidence.

Tip 1 – Have A Game Plan

Exam Skills Math

Game Plan

Definition – a strategy worked out in advance, especially in sport, politics, or business.

Let’s examine exam tip number 1.  It’s easy to think you’ve got lots of time to prepare for your exam, which is often weeks and sometimes months away. What actually happens is life gets in the way and you end up cramming for your exams the night before which is proven to be ill fated. Successful people and successful teams have a game plan and it usually starts with the end first. Sit down in a quiet place, look at your calendar and working backwards, set aside regular time slots to focus on learning. Your game plan should include a quiet place free from distractions, somewhere inspiring and comfortable.

Tip 2 – Take Regular Breaks

Exam Elf - Exam Skills App

Take Regular Breaks

Study in 20-50 minute chunks as it takes time for your brain to form new long-term memories, and you can’t just keep studying flat out. Take 5-10 minute breaks minimum and do something physically active to get your blood flowing and make you more alert.

Tip 3 – Healthy Eating = Healthy Mind

Exam Skills App iPad

Healthy Eating = Healthy Mind

A bag of crisps, a bar of chocolate and maybe a can of fizzy drink are easy to prepare and easy to consume but they’ll also quickly give you a ‘sugar rush’ followed by a ‘sugar crash’. As part of your game plan prepare some healthy snacks before you start studying and drink lots of water.  Check out some of these ideas on Pinterest.

Tip 4 – Practice

Exam Elf iPad App Exam Skills


Do you remember when you first learnt to ride a bike? It was scary and you had lots to think about. Pedaling forwards, looking up, steering, using the brakes to stop, using the bell and trying not to run into the fence! The second time it came a little easier and after each attempt it became easier and then you found ‘auto pilot’.

Exam Elf is a free app to help you practice 12 key exam skills. Download it here and practice your exam taking skills.

Tip 5 – Sleep

Exam Elf Free App For Common Core


According to Dr. Philip Alapat, Medical Director, Harris Health Sleep Disorders Center, and assistant professor, Baylor College of Medicine “Memory recall and ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested,” he says. “By preparing early and being able to better recall what you have studied, your ability to perform well on exams is increased.”

Feel free to share these tips and let us know what other tips you would add.

Exam Elf



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